Owning Our First Home – Lessons Learned

Cory and I first moved in together in May of 2008, right before he graduated from college. We had a cute, little (700 sq. ft.) loft apartment in downtown. In July 2009, we purchased our first home.

(Below: My now-husband, fiance at the time, carrying me over the threshold into our new home.)

Looking back, I’ve realized that we thought so little about this BIG decision. We had been told over & over again that we were “throwing our money away” on rent & all of our friends were starting to think about buying homes too, so we just assumed the time was right. 
Not to say that we weren’t throwing money away by renting or that the time wasn’t right, the point is, we just didn’t put much thought into it. 
We were in our early twenties, who could blame us?
So we started looking in the spring and must have looked at about 25-30 houses before we found “the one.”

Here are some lessons we learned from the experience:

Lesson # 1 – Take time to think about what’s right for you.

Some questions we didn’t ask ourselves that we probably should have:

– Is a move possible in the next 5 years?
– Is this side of town where we want to be?
(How far will we have to drive to work and are we okay with that? What hobbies do we have and how will living in this area affect those them?)
– What do we utilize our living space for most & will this house accommodate that?

Lesson # 2 – Buy big enough to grow into, but not too big.

We were pulled in by the lure of five bedrooms & three bathrooms without realizing that we were only two people. Two people who didn’t plan on having kids right away. So could we have done just fine with three bedrooms & two bathrooms? Of course we could have! We would still have had more than enough room & probably a smaller mortgage or a more upgraded space.

Lesson # 3 – Find your style.

This one is hard. It takes time, consideration & effort on your part, but it’s so worth it.

 Though I had always loved the bungalows of Riverside & many of the houses in the College Hill area, Cory was adamant about our first home being a new construction. We even looked at building. Neither of us loved the cookie cutter look, but we agreed that new construction might be best for two first time homeowners who had no experience or skill in home repair or major maintenance.

Our home was clean, pretty & new-ish (5 years old) & we enjoyed the ease of everything, but it had no character, which is something I came to really crave.


Now don’t get me wrong, we are satisfied with our first home, knowing that we have learned a lot. We owned a home that were proud of & even with a major decline in the market, we ended up selling it for $500 more than we purchased it for, breaking right around even.

That said, although we weren’t “throwing our money away on rent” because we owned a home, we did spend a lot of time & energy buying, painting, decorating, listing & selling our home over the 36 months that we were home owners.

Which is why, after selling our house in order to move states for my job, we made the decision to put off purchasing another home for awhile. At the moment we are happily renting.

(Below: At our “Farwell Jewell” party, just before we sold our first house, which was on Jewell St.)

We’ll definitely by another house one day, but we’ll take the time to do it better by:

 – Deciding our priorities in a house (less, but larger bedrooms, for example)
– Finding an area that we’re in love with or that works really well for our lifestyle
– Considering a fixer upper w/good character (or even better – find an older, bungalow style home that has recently been flipped, so we don’t have to deal with any of the hard work)

And here is the biggest thing we will do differently: Buy when the time is right…for US. 


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